"For me, goals are my road map to the life I want. They have helped me accomplish things I once thought were impossible." - Catherine Pulsifer
I started cycling to achieve one specific goal. I didn’t realise it at the time, but when that goal no longer became viable, I simply kept on riding because it was fun. Cycling had become a part of who I was and what I did.
What’s so bad about doing something for fun? Nothing. But to be among the best in the World at anything, you need to work hard. Really hard. And that isn’t always fun. This is where goals come in. Goals are the rainbow which reminds us why we put up with the rain in the first place and to be successful, you need goals.At the beginning of 2010 after a rather forgettable 6months on the bike due to injuries and illnesses (what I’m sure many athletes can sympathise with), I continued to ride the wave that I had become accustomed to with no firm destination in sight. I woke up at ridiculous o’clock in the morning to train, worked 2 jobs to fund my sport, sacrificed time spent with family and friends – and looking back now, I really have no reason why. The majority of the time I loved riding, but the sacrifices I was making at the time far outweighed the rewards I was receiving in return.
|At the end of 2010, I rode up the Mur de Huy for fun.|
2010 came and went, I was improving on the bike but not at the rate that I hoped, that people had expected. I’d joined another European team for 2011 and was set on going there to find that fitness and strength I once had and when I suffered yet another injury in the closing weeks of my trip I started thinking – my body is telling me I can’t do this. Why am I doing this to myself.
For the whole month afterwards whilst I was recovering, I actually had an off season. It was the best thing I ever did. It gave me time to reflect on what exactly I wanted to get out of cycling and if the sacrifices I was making were all worthwhile. At races I would pull out when the going got tough, pull out of bunch rides when they got hard and find excuses not to train when the weather was far from perfect. I didn’t see the point of me riding when I didn’t want to, and it felt like no one else did too.
And in the space of 2 weeks, everything back flipped. I was given two incredible opportunities that I could never have wished for. I had a clear mind, a new challenge and just like that - the spark had reignited. I was able to set clear goals and distinguish a purpose to my cycling, to be able to enjoy the rewards from the sacrifices.
The past 6 months has been about finding and re-building myself again. I have changed my whole approach to the sport to rise to this challenge. It has been a frustrating, yet vital stepping stone to achieving my new found goals. Every time I clip into my pedals I set myself a goal. Whether it is chasing Strava KOMS, watching my cadence or something as trivial as eating and drinking at certain times – every session has an element of intrinsic motivation. And each session I do is a building block to lead me to bigger and better things.
2012 has seen me find that passion I let wander for the sport. I can honestly say I can’t remember last time I had this much fun riding my bike. In my new environment I am now motivated and have a drive that I didn’t know was missing until just now. It is this motivation and drive which kicks me out of bed when it’s cold and raining. The same one that makes me train solo day in day out. The same one that makes me give 100% in training.
|2012 and i'm racing up the Mur de Huy in my first World Cup, Fleche Wallonne. :)|
I have 2 clear goals at the moment – one short term and one long term. They are written and stuck in a place where I see them every morning to help me refocus in times like now, when you get a little too much time to over analyse things.
Goals give you a purpose and send you on the most extraordinary journeys in search for them. I’m not saying that everything you do has to have a purpose, but I AM saying at least make sure whatever you’re doing, you’re having fun. After all what makes you strive forward when the going gets tough? Why are you doing this in the first place?
We can change a lot of things in our lives, but one thing we can’t change is time. Life is there to be lived. To be enjoyed. So do it :)
Until next time,